DOWNTOWN Councillor aims to lay down law in nightclub district JEFF GRAY City Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) is pushing for new rules to crack down on the club district, which he blames for attracting as many as 70,000 "drunken hooligans" to the downtown on weekends. "We suck police resources from across the city into one little neighbourhood, to police a bunch of basically hooligans," Mr. Vaughan said in an interview. "And I say the club owners have to take responsibility for this." With a moratorium on new nightclubs in the area expiring this month, Mr. Vaughan will ask the city's licensing committee tomorrow to direct bureaucrats to come up with "planning mechanisms" that would allow "long-term moratoriums" on new nightclubs, and establish rules on how many can be in any one part of the city. Yesterday, he persuaded the works committee to ask bureaucrats to draft a plan that would, if passed, force nightclub owners to apply and pay for permits to use city sidewalks for their lengthy lineups, which Mr. Vaughan said is actually where many club-land fights break out. He also has plans to try to make the terms of nightclub licences stricter, so that "bad players" could be shut down more easily. Mr. Vaughan said he is acting on long-standing complaints from vocal residents living in the area's many new condos or in Victorian houses that long predate the explosion of the clubs in the 1990s. While he believes the nightclub business, with an estimated 70 clubs in the downtown district around Richmond and Peter Streets, is actually starting to fade on its own, he said new rules are needed to help it along. "I think that people are just tired of being shot at, or being searched," Mr. Vaughan said. "You just grow out of it, and hopefully they just disappear. Scores of police officers try to maintain order on early weekend mornings, when clubs empty around 2:30 a.m. and the streets fill up with thousands of club-goers in various states of inebriation. In addition to crowd-control issues, police say, violence, drug and gang activity are part of the scene. Adam Vassos, a lawyer who represents several of the area's nightclubs, said the industry is being treated unfairly and its problems exaggerated. He argued that the nightclubs revitalized a derelict part of the downtown. "The area was in a complete shambles," he said of the neighbourhood in the late 1980s, before clubs began to spring up. ------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is absolutely absurd. I'm hardly the kind of person who likes the particularly greasy variety of club found on Richmond and Adelaide, and I'm a local resident who is inconvenienced by the crowds at two in the morning, but I still think all this NIMBY efforts to strangle clubs are ridiculous. For one thing, I find it quite offensive that they're clearly singling out an identifiable "clubber" demographic for such contempt. I also think that it's quite disgraceful to call all of the tens of thousands of people who visit the area every night "hooligans." Am I a hooligan when I walk up there to pick up a burrito? What about if I decide to stop in to a bar for a drink? I love how he uses the exact same scare tactics as conservatives, suggesting that you're pretty much guaranteed to get shot if you step foot in the neighbourhood. There have been all of two murders in the "Entertainment District" in the past three years; not bad considering the critical mass of people visiting the area every weekend. What I find most ridiculous of all is that the city has forced all the clubs into this neighbourhood, and is now complaining that they're too concentrated. If you moved into a condo in the middle of the club district, you should maybe have thought that it'll be a little loud for a couple hours two nights a week. Hey, here's an idea: People honk horns and shout on my street after a Blue Jays game lets out. I never would have imagined that there would be noise when I moved next door to a stadium. Many of the Blue Jays fans aren't good Downtown resident Adam Vaughan supporters. Let's shut down the SkyDome!